Alaska is home to majestic wildlife and a destination for adventure. Come with us and trek the bizarre landscape of Root Glacier, navigate a kayak through icy waters, fly over a volcano, explore pristine Denali National Park, and cruise Prince William Sound.
Explore Alaska’s highlights on this trip led by a local gay outdoors specialist. Kayak to a glacier, raft a glacial whitewater river, hike in Denali National Park, trek across a glacier with crampons, take a scenic bush flight, voyage across Prince William Sound and more! Traverse the wilderness: Fairbanks, Denali, McCarthy, Kennicott Glacier, Valdez, Anchorage and all points in between!
Today we arrive in Fairbanks, Alaska’s “Golden Heart” city. With around 70,000 residents, Fairbanks is Alaska’s second largest community and hub of Alaska’s vast Interior and Arctic regions. Our hotel offers a complimentary airport shuttle upon request, or you can take a taxi.
The evening is on your own tonight so you have time to acclimate to the “midnight sun.” We are offering an optional scenic flight (Arctic Circle Anaktuvuk Adventure) which takes us to an Inupiaq Eskimo village north of the Arctic Circle in the dramatic Brooks Range and Gates of the Arctic National Park. Therefore, the tour departs tonight at 7 pm and returns around midnight.
This morning is yours to relax and go at your own pace. Early risers may enjoy an optional scenic flight between Fairbanks and Coldfoot, north of the Arctic Circle in the Brooks Mountain Range. The flight provides an aerial view of the Yukon River valley and the wildflower-covered hills and tundra of the vast Alaska wilderness. Also, enjoy a guided ground tour to Wiseman, a remote gold mining community in the rugged Brooks Range. Departs 7:00 am; returns around 12 noon.
Other guests may certainly choose a more leisurely morning, beginning with a visit to the beautiful new Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center for an excellent introduction to life in northern Alaska. Stop in at the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race Headquarters to learn about this grueling 1,000-mile dog sled race and meet some of the dogs.
We will meet in the hotel lobby at Noon and have lunch together at a local restaurant. Then we head to the dramatic University of Alaska Museum of the North, designed by top architects to fit into its surroundings on a hillside. Next, we visit the University’s research reindeer, caribou, and musk ox and see some of Fairbanks’ highlights on a brief city tour.
On our way back to the hotel we will go on a short nature hike at Creamers’ Field State Game Refuge. This evening will feature our Welcome Dinner at our guide’s favorite bistro.
Today we take a scenic 3-hour drive south to Denali. As a result, we will begin our exploration of Denali with about two hours near the Denali Park Visitor Center where you can explore the trails and visitor center. Also, shop at the Alaska Geographic bookstore, and get lunch on your own.
Next, we will head deep into the wilderness of Denali National Park on a wildlife watching shuttle bus to Toklat. Virtually the only way to get into the park is via the park buses. These are modified schools buses traveling on a gravel road. Therefore, the pristine alpine scenery and frequent wildlife sightings mean this journey is often a trip highlight for visitors. Don’t forget your camera and binoculars! Dinner will be at a locally owned restaurant famous for its Alaskan seafood.
Heeding the call of the mountains, this morning we will go on an invigorating hike through Denali’s subalpine forests to a trapper’s cabin, then have lunch together.
In the afternoon we will don space-suit like dry suits for an exciting whitewater rafting trip on the Nenana River! This undammed glacial river features large waves and class 3 to 4 rapids. We will paddle our raft through the rapids under the command of a knowledgeable river guide. Dinner is on your own this evening at our hotel’s restaurant, a pizza shop or another nearby restaurant.
It’s time to leave Denali and head to the lesser known, but equally magnificent Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. So to get there, we will head east from Denali National Park and follow the pristine Alaska Range on the remote 134-mile long Denali Highway (all but 21 miles of which are unpaved) to the Richardson Highway and Copper River Valley. We’ll also stop for lunch along the way.
From the town of Chitina, where the Wrangell and Chugach Mountains meet, we will take a jaw-dropping scenic flight past large volcanoes and glaciers to the tiny, isolated hamlet of McCarthy. Keep your eyes out for 16,000-foot Mount Blackburn; the massive, steaming, 14,000-foot Wrangell volcano; the 5,000-foot Stairway Ice Fall (a glacier spilling over mile-high cliffs); and cliff-side mines as you descend into the McCarthy/Kennicott valley, “Alaska’s Shangri-La.” Dinner tonight will be on your own in McCarthy.
Nearby Kennecott (Kennicott is the spelling for the glacier) is home to the world’s richest copper deposit ever discovered. This copper mine was developed and exploited by the Alaska Syndicate (aka. J.P. Morgan and the Guggenheim) early in the 20th century. Kennecott was the company town and McCarthy, located 5 miles away, was the independent sin city where the miners certainly went for fun.
Are we still on planet earth? You might wonder today as we explore the icy moonscape of the Root Glacier with crampons (foot spikes). This ancient repository of compacted snow features eerie deep blue pools, valleys, hills, surface rivers of meltwater, and moulins (where the surface water pours deep within the glacier).
We’ll have a box lunch to eat during our hike. Then later in the afternoon, you are free to hike more. So, explore the fascinating mine ruins at Kennicott on a National Park Service led history walk, or relax. Dinner is on your own, and performers (or those who dream of performing) in our midst can try their hand at “open mic” night (Thursdays only).
After a tasty breakfast at the McCarthy Lodge, we head out the rugged McCarthy Road, which follows the old copper railroad route to Chitina. From there we head south through the Chugach Mountains and overdramatic Thompson Pass to coastal Valdez. Near the summit of the pass, we will stop at the Worthington Glacier for a short hike to view this interesting hanging glacier. Next, as we near Valdez, numerous impressive waterfalls line the cliffs of Keystone Canyon. Depending on the weather and on how adventurous the group is feeling our guide may offer some optional hikes today. We’ll have lunch along the route to Valdez, then you can have dinner on your own at one of the several restaurants in Valdez.
Today we actively explore Alaska’s rugged coast from the seat of our sea kayaks! We will also take a water taxi from Valdez harbor out to Shoup Bay. From there we will enter our kayaks and paddle into Shoup’s steep mountain-lined inner lagoon. We will paddle past a noisy, cliff-side colony of 10,000 seabirds on our way to the picturesque Shoup Glacier. The glacier spills out of the rugged mountains at the head of the bay.
We’ll have lunch ashore, then late in the afternoon, our water taxi will return and take us back to town, where we’ll enjoy dinner together.
If anyone would prefer to not commit to a full, active day in a kayak, we can certainly arrange an alternate scenic guided glacier and wildlife cruise on a touring boat for the day.
Our day begins with a short hike on the Dock Point Trail. Next, we board the Alaska State Ferry for a scenic trip across Prince William Sound to Whittier. Keep your eyes out for icebergs, sea otters, sea lions, jumping salmon, and more en route. Lunch will be on your own on the ferry.
Developed as a secret port during World War II, the tiny Whittier is located at the end of a long foggy fjord and is weird even by Alaskan (oddball-tolerant) standards. Virtually the entire town (apartments, school, post office, bowling alley, etc.) is located in a Soviet-style 14-story building. Whittier and Valdez were two of the towns most impacted by the 1964 Great Alaskan Earthquake. Decades later, you can certainly still see evidence of the destruction.
After we disembark the ferry, we will head through a one-way (at a time) railroad tunnel to Turnagain Arm and the Seward Highway (an impressive National Scenic Byway). Here the mountains rise straight out of the sea with the highway just on the water’s edge. On our way into Anchorage, we will visit the rescued wildlife at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Hopefully with a chance to see bears, moose, caribou and Alaska’s other famous wild residents up close. This evening we will celebrate our exciting adventures together with a scrumptious farewell dinner in Anchorage.
We will finish today with breakfast at our hotel, which provides a complimentary shuttle to the Anchorage airport. If your flight is later in the afternoon or evening, we recommend renting a bike for the day. The best ride is on the 11-mile Tony Knowles Coastal Bike Trail that follows the shores of Cook Inlet to Earthquake Park.
Finally, we say farewell to new friends and look forward to our next HE Travel Adventure!
Price includes: 9 Breakfasts, 6 lunches and 4 dinners, with wine at the welcome and farewell dinners; Accommodations: 9 nights of comfortable, eclectic lodging, with private bathrooms except in McCarthy; For our two nights in McCarthy we stay in the beautifully restored 1920’s Ma Johnson’s Hotel (McCarthy Lodge) where all rooms share a bathroom with 1 or 2 other rooms – and our dinner is prepared by a James Beard Award-winning chef; All activities and transportation as described: all transportation during the trip. Services of a knowledgeable HE Travel tour host (with a minimum number of participants); HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Not included: Meals not shown as being included; Transportation to and from starting and ending points; Airport transfers in Fairbanks and Anchorage (complimentary airport shuttles are available for our hotels or you can take a taxi); Activities listed as Optional in the itinerary (see pricing below); Personal items including: alcoholic beverages, snacks, laundry, telephone calls, gratuities for guides and host.
Optional 2018 Tour Choices:
$1175 Single Supplement limited nights (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
$475 Day 10 Morning Flight Arctic Circle Adventure
“This trip is a great sampler for the best that Alaska has to offer in terms of nature, activities, food, and accommodations. Tim is an expert on all subjects Alaskan and shares his knowledge generously. This was a great experience” – Howard C., Chicago, IL
“The scenery was amazing, the hiking terrific, and our guide Tim knew all the great spots. The professionalism of Tim and of the operators of rafting, glacier hiking and kayaking were testaments to your ability to put together a great trip.” — W.K., Ft Lauderdale, FL”
Even though I traveled alone to Alaska, I had an amazing time hiking, rafting, and kayaking awesome scenery with a great group of new friends.” — Richard A., Lake Angelus, MI
“Far and away the best vacation I’ve ever had. Well planned with just the right balance of sightseeing, physical activity, great food, and most of all, fun people.”— Susan Eaton, San Diego, CA
Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it’s usually because they’re looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn’t have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you’ll be traveling with friends. You don’t need to pay the single supplement if you’re traveling alone. We’ll be happy to match you with a roommate. Pay the single supplement only if you want a bedroom to yourself.
For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.
This tour starts in Fairbanks and ends in Anchorage, Alaska.
Alaska is home to some of the most exciting adventure sports in North America. Our Alaskan Frontiers adventure offers travelers the chance to experience unique settings while trying new adventures. Hiking on a glacier, rafting a glacial river, kayaking around icebergs, a bush flight, and more are available on this trip. If you are in good physical shape, like a moderate challenge, and don’t mind occasional rustic lodgings, this trip is for you. Your guide on the tour will help you access what is appropriate and reasonable given your desires and abilities each day.
For answers to your additional questions, please email email@example.com or call 305-294-8174